Wildlife in April

April is a fabulous month for wildlife, as the trees and shrubs burst into leaf with fresh, vibrant green foliage and wild flowers begin to open. The earliest butterflies will begin to fill the air on warm days.

April marks the beginning of the butterfly season with a number of the earliest species beginning to appear this month.

Butterflies hibernate as adults, eggs, immature caterpillars or pupae. To survive the extreme cold of winter butterflies undergo a rest period during which the vital functions are kept at the very minimum. No growth or development occurs in the egg, caterpillar or pupae, and the adult butterfly just hangs in a suitable place motionless waiting for better conditions to arrive.

The brimstone, small tortoiseshell, peacock, orange tip, comma and red admiral all hibernate as adults from October until the first of the warmer weather in spring so are usually the first butterflies you will see. They may be found bathing in the sun to absorb its warmth giving them the energy to fly.

Bird song grows in volume and diversity in April, although it is not until May that all our breeding species arrive back to complete the ensemble. However early morning sleep can be disturbed by a strident blackbird or song thrush. In the countryside on sunny days the chiff-chaff and blackcap will already have been singing for a week or two.

Other things to look out for:

  • Cuckoos can be heard – one can often be heard near the Visitor Centre in the mornings.
  • The first swallows arrive. However the old saying of “one swallow does not a summer make” is never truer. The weather can turn cold again and quickly disappoint!
  • Some resident bird species may also have their first bird broods such as blue tits and blackbirds.
  • Bluebells in flower
  • Badger activity is high by now. Sets will have been spring cleaned and adults make foraging sorties each night. The early young will be beginning to appear above ground in April but as badgers are nocturnal sightings are rare.